Now on the ridge, I could get to the task of finding the viewpoint I wanted, framing my composition, and waiting for the best light.
I knew that Back Tor has been very heavily photographed – and for good reason! The lone tree, a striking shape in itself, exposed atop the ridge is a very powerful image, but this brings a challenge. For the trip to be worthwhile, I had to capture an image that was unique and not just a copy of everyone who walked that path and had a camera.
I have a few advantages in my favour: I was there in the early evening on a hot summer evening. I knew there would be warm light around sunset, and I also have the skill (after around 10 years of photography) to make the most of it when it came. On top of that, I had specialist lenses and filters that would allow me much more control over my final image.
None of that would matter though, if the very strong winds kept up! Eventually, after a lot of searching and checking the viewfinder, found a small divot in a hillock directly opposite the tor. The image I had planned all along isolated just the tree and the ridge, to create a much more intimate view of the tor, which is the opposite of what most people try and capture (the whole thing). I set up the 7D Mk 2 with a 70-300 mm lens and tightened in to the crop that I wanted, and settled in to wait for the perfect moment. The wind was gusting now, but with brief periods of stillness between. I knew I would have to time my exposures very carefully.
While waiting, I used my film camera to make some exposures of Kinder Scout, trying to find examples of contrast and texture. Eventually though, I needed to turn my full attention to Back Tor, and the scene that was developing before me.
Right on top of the ridge, and perfectly with my crop, a ewe and her lamb had entered the framed. The sky was bright, and I was hurrying to include a polarising filter and graduated filters to balance the exposures, and then the wind dropped for just a moment, and I captured the image I had been waiting for:
The relief that I felt as I checked the display on the camera was almost overwhelming – like scratching an itch that had been unbearable. Search google images for Back Tor, and you won’t find this anywhere else!
Checking the details at 100% in Lightroom, I am very pleased to report that there is fine detail even in the leaves.